Wollongong Comedy is setting a gold standard for live comedy.
When the South Coaster strolls into the comedy room – the basement bar – at Wollongong’s Builders’ Club on a cold June night, Shane Moon and Stuart Macpherson warmly greet me at the door.
As friendly and unassuming as they are, this couple – Shane is the manager; comedian Stu books acts, MCs and also does stand-up – are Wollongong Comedy and they are responsible for a renaissance of sorts in the Illawarra’s comedy scene. Possibly even further afield.
And it’s easy to see why.
On that particular night, their thorough professionalism in planning and orchestrating a great evening of entertainment is obvious.
For starters, the venue is tops; intimate and homely. Then, the comedians that night were bloody awesome: MC Kristin Boesenberg, Ray Badran, Christina Van Look and Peter Berner. Fantastic acts. Brilliant. (These comedians aren’t on all the time but that night’s line-up was indicative of the high-quality talent consistently on offer at Wollongong Comedy venues.)
What makes 2016 a great year for Illawarra’s comedy lovers is the fact that it is Wollongong Comedy’s 10th anniversary and, as well as continuing to host a wide range of renowned acts, Shane and Stu have expanded their repertoire to include another open mic night in Wollongong, and a pro room in Dapto.
“It’s now become more than just a fun hobby we can do on the weekend,” Shane says. “A huge part of what we want to do now is create a culture in the Illawarra that comedy exists and is available and it’s a great place to come.
“We’re trying to build a culture of comedy.
“We want to concentrate on making really great venues for people to come and watch, and for people to come and perform.”
Martin Henchion started the Builders’ Club comedy room in the Noughties. Shane and Stu, who had minded the venue for Martin while he was overseas and then worked alongside him when he returned, took over management duties in 2012.
Stu, who has been doing stand-up since 2003, says Wollongong Comedy has gone from strength to strength since those early days.
“We have a reputation amongst the comedy community that we put on good shows, we are a good room to perform at; people know that if they come to one of our rooms there’s a decent chance that it’s going to be a good night,” he says.
“We put the effort in.
“The comedians know that – barring an unforeseen debacle [laughs] – we’ll put on a good show.”
Exciting news for those of us who live in 2515 and 2508: Wollongong Comedy is looking for a venue in those areas.
“Once we get the right room up north, then we’ll have all of our bases covered,” Stu says.
For more about Wollongong Comedy’s 10th anniversary celebrations this year and for details about upcoming gigs, visit www.wollongongcomedy.com.au.